Why go? Koh Samui isn’t just for backpackers. In recent years a host of sleek, upmarket and tastefully designed resorts have sprung up on Thailand’s third largest island, just a 45-minute flight south of Bangkok. The people here are exceptionally friendly to outsiders, the beaches among the best in Asia, while the traditional Thai curries and fresh seafood dishes on offer are incredible.
When? There are three distinct seasons on Koh Samui: dry (December to February), hot (March to August) and rainy (September to November). The peak time for tourists is December to August, making it perfect for us sunseeking Brits. Even in the rainy season you’re more likely to get a heavy but brief downpour that clears as quickly as it starts, rather than rain all day. Traditionally Koh Samui has been just as popular for its nightlife with Full Moon and Half Moon parties drawing big name DJs and international revellers, so you’re guaranteed to find lots going on whenever you visit.
You really must… Soak up the panoramic views over the coast as you sip fresh coconut juice by the villa’s expansive infinity pool. Samujana offers a host of experiences designed to help guests switch off from the hectic world outside. You can throw off those niggling work stresses with a customised session with the serene Rui Zou, a yoga teacher and Reiki expert who with her partner Jason Milne, a meditation and tantra yoga specialist, conduct utterly blissful mind-calming classes (£46 for an hour). If it’s a more radical de-stressing you’re after, try a group session with Samujana’s Muay Thai kick boxing champion and personal trainer AJ (£40 for an hour). A rather impressive ex-SAS member, originally from Oxford, he will get your blood pumping before breakfast. Follow it up with a Deep Thai massage in your room (£20 for an hour), or book a traditional cookery class (£64 for two) where you can learn how to make an authentic Thai curry with the in-house chef.
Dine, drink and party at: Things really come alive in Koh Samui in the evening but the trick is to avoid the bland touristy bars and restaurants on the main strips and find authentic places where the locals eat and drink. Our favourites include Sa Bien Glae (sabienglae.com), in the coastal area of Lamai, for its sensational fresh seafood selection including deep-fried prawns and lobster and an array of exceptional curries which will set you back between £5 and £7 a dish. Barracuda (barracuda-restaurant.com) in Fisherman’s Village serves top quality international food particularly lamb and beef dishes with a Thai twist from around £10 a main course. For simple but great tasting traditional Thai cuisine in the perfect beach setting try the restaurant at the Sarikantang hotel (sarikantang.com) on the nearby island of Koh Phangan, where we may have tasted the best Pad Thai chicken ever for £6. Situated on the quieter side of the island it’s well worth the £5 trip by ferry (ferrysamui.com).